WINDEMERE, Fla. — Tiger Woods added another corporate deal, even though the logo won’t show up anywhere on his clothing or golf bag.
It’s also a familiar name to Woods — India-based Hero MotoCorp.
Hero announced in September that it has become title sponsor of the World Challenge that Woods hosts each December. The deal was announced at Isleworth, where Woods first met Hero managing director Pawan Munjal during the Tavistock Cup.
Woods played an exhibition with Munjal in New Delhi in February, and the relation has taken off.
”That only reinforced my conviction, but I always knew he was the best fit,” Munjal said.
Munjal said worldwide recognition of Woods was among his greatest assets for a company that plans to enter 50 markets in the next couple of years and increase production of motorcycles and scooters to 12 million a year.
”He cuts across the globe – non-golfers, golfers, everyone,” Munjal said. ”I’m not looking at the athlete. I think he’s probably one of the most famous celebrities. … He is going to add a huge amount of value to the brand Hero, which clearly is going global in its intent and with its product and the brand.”
Woods earlier this year announced a deal with Denver-based MusclePharm, which now is on his golf bag.
Terms of the four-year deal were not disclosed.
Munjal said Woods will be used in television commercials and other advertising in various markets, though still to be determined is whether Woods actually rides one of the Hero motorcycles in a commercial. He still hasn’t ridden one.
”I’m not sure if he necessarily has to be on a motorbike,” Munjal said, adding that Woods sat on a motorcycle Tuesday for a still photo to be used in advertising.
The endorsement expanded Hero’s presence in the sports market. Hero already is heavily invested in field hockey and soccer as the sponsor of teams and athletes. It’s the golf side that is starting to take off.
Hero is believed to be the only company that sponsors golf tournaments on four tours – the PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour and Ladies European Tour. The LET tournament is being held this week. The PGA Tour sanctions the Hero World Challenge, though it is unofficial.
MICKELSON TO THE DESERT: Phil Mickelson will put his new physique on display for the first time in the California desert.
The Humana Challenge announced Tuesday that Mickelson will make his 2015 debut at the tournament he has won two times. Mickelson used to be a regular at what was then the Bob Hope Classic, though he has played only four times in the past 10 years.
He last played in the Ryder Cup. Since then, Mickelson has been devoted to a fitness plan and is said to be in the best shape he has been in years.
Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson and FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel also announced plans to play at the Humana Challenge. Patrick Reed is the defending champion. The tournament is Jan. 22-25, the third event of the calendar year.
ON THE MOVE: The Hero World Challenge left Sherwood Country Club in California after a 14-year run, relocating to Isleworth in Florida.
And now it’s moving again.
Tournament host Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that it will move next year to Albany in The Bahamas, where Woods once had property. Albany is in part of the ownership group that includes Isleworth.
Woods said it would be in The Bahamas for the next three years.
KO TO COLLEGE: Fresh off her $1.5 million payoff at the CME Group Tour Championship, Lydia Ko received even better news. She has been accepted into the Korea University, one of the top colleges in Seoul.
Yonhap news agency said the 17-year-old Ko was accepted from a pool of overseas candidates from South Korea. Korea University takes a portion of its new class from South Koreans who completed primary and secondary education outside the country. Ko moved to New Zealand when she was 6.
Ko is No. 3 in the women’s world ranking.
CHINA WRAP: The PGA Tour China wrapped up its first season, sending two players from China to the Web.com Tour next year.
Li Hao-Tong won the final two events to win the Order of Merit. The rest of the top five on the money list – Brett Drewitt, Zhang Xin-Ju, Sam Chien and Todd Baek – also earn Web.com Tour status for next year.
”This is very exciting to me to know that I will play on the Web.com Tour next year,” Li said. ”I think I had a very good season, and I know that PGA Tour China – because it was such a great place to play against so many good players – has really helped me in preparation.”
Zhang was leading the money list until he was suspended for six months by the China Golf Association for twice signing bad scorecards. Chinese golfers are governed by the CGA regardless of what tour they play.
CURTIS CUP: Jack Burke Jr. was a Ryder Cup captain twice. Now it’s his wife’s turn.
Robin Burke has been selected as U.S. captain for the Curtis Cup in 2016. The matches will be June 10-12 at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club outside Dublin. The Americans are coming off a 13-7 victory over Great Britain & Ireland earlier this year in St. Louis.
Burke was runner-up in the 1997 U.S. Women’s Amateur and played in the Curtis Cup the following year, going 2-1. She has competed in 35 USGA championships, including the U.S. Women’s Open three times. She also has played for Texas in the Women’s State Team Championships four times.
Her husband is a two-time major champion and owner of Champions Golf Club in Houston, where Robin Burke serves as vice president.
”My husband played on five Ryder Cup teams, was a Ryder Cup captain twice and an assistant to Hal Sutton in 2004,” Burke said. ”Hopefully, this new responsibility will provide me equal talking time over dinner.”
DIVOTS: Charley Hull already has played in the Solheim Cup. Now she takes on Q-school. The English teenager is among 156 players in the final stage of LPGA Tour qualifying this week in Daytona Beach. She also is among three players from the top 40 in the world at Q-school at No. 37. The others are Jang Ha Na (No. 25) of South Korea and Kim Sei Young (No. 40) of South Korea. …The European Tour will only list points for its Race to Dubai in the 2014-15 season. Every euro that players earn will be converted to a point. … Matt Every added a second child during his offseason. His wife, Danielle, gave birth to a daughter they named Quinn.
STAT OF THE WEEK: In the first week of December, 31 of the top 50 players are competing on two continents.
FINAL WORD: ”You can win at a very late age because you don’t have to physically dominate anybody. You don’t have to physically beat anybody. You just have to beat the golf course.” – Tiger Woods, who turns 39 at the end of the month.